Do You Know the Scientific Name of These Common Plants?

By: J. Reinoehl
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you know which fruit formally goes by the name Pyrus malus, or which veggie is also known as Solanum tubersum? Know which flower in the garden is scientifically classified as the Artirrhinum majus, or Helianthus annus? If you think you can recognize plants by their scientific names, take our quiz to prove it!

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet but not if you're a scientist! With somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 species of plants in the Kingdom Plantae, trying to keep them organized is no easy task. While you might think a rose is a rose, scientists know that people around the world have all different names for this fragrant flower, and some may use the term "rose" for something you would never associate with this thorny plant. 

To keep consistency among the scientific community and to clarify relationships between species, scientists rely on Latin terms to name each plant. The two-part Latin name reveals the Genus and species, making it easy to understand a plant's entire family structure from its name alone. 

This practice of naming plants is known as Taxonomy, and it's a specialized task performed by botanists and other plant scientists. Think you can puzzle out the scientific names of common plants from a single image? Take our quiz to find out!

What is the scientific name for dandelions?

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” –Suzanne Collins

What is the scientific name for English lavender?

English lavender is a member of the mint family. It has woody stems, and so it is classified as a perennial.

What is the scientific name for impatiens?

“A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are beautiful in their own way, and that’s like women, too.” –Miranda Kerr

What is the scientific name for aloe vera?

Aloe can grow up to three feet tall. It produces a yellow or orange flower if it is grown outdoors in warm climates.

What is one common name for Thymus pseudolanuginosus?

“Just as bees make honey from thyme, the strongest and driest of herbs, so do the wise profit from the most difficult of experiences.” –Plato

What is the scientific name for saffron crocus?

Saffron is not only a beautiful flower, but also a valuable herb. The red stigmas are the most costly herb by weight (only three are produced per flower) and are frequently mixed with other substances or mislabeled as a higher-grade product.

What is the scientific name for a rose?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” –William Shakespeare

What is the scientific name for common foxglove?

The scientific name for foxglove is similar to the name of the drug originally isolated from it: digoxin. As a source of this medicine in unregulated amounts, it is one of the most deadly plants people cultivate.

What is the scientific name for Chinese wisteria?

“There is much to be said for cherry blossoms, but they seem so flighty. They are so quick to run off and leave you. And then just when your regrets are the strongest the wisteria comes into bloom, and it blooms on into the summer. There is nothing quite like it. Even the color is somehow companionable and inviting.” ― Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji

What is one common name for Viola sororia?

Wild violets attract butterflies because some caterpillars eat them. Unlike African violets, wild violets are edible and sometimes used in culinary prepartions.

What is the scientific name for apple trees?

“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.” –Bernard Baruch

What is the scientific name for greenstem forsythia?

The plant is named after William Forsyth. He was the Scottish superintendent of the Kensington Palace Royal Gardens in the 18th century and wrote A Treatise on the Culture and Management of Fruit Trees.

What is the scientific name for common sunflowers?

“Ah, Sunflower, weary of time, who countest the steps of the sun; seeking after that sweet golden clime, where the traveller's journey is done. Where the youth pined away with desire and the pale virgin shrouded in snow arise from their graves and aspire where my Sunflower wishes to go!” –William Blake, The Sunflower.

What is the scientific name for daffodil?

Daffodils bloom in the spring from a true bulb. Because of their cup-like (or nose-shaped on some varieties) coronas and surrounding six petals and because they are easy to grow, they are one of the most recognized plants.

What is one common name for Toxicondendron radicans?

“She comes on like a rose, and everybody knows she’ll get you in Dutch. You can look but you’d better not touch. Poison ivy, poison ivy—late at night when you’re sleeping, poison ivy comes a creeping all around.” –Jerry Leiber (and Mike Stoller) for the Coasters

What is the scientific name for butterfly bush?

Butterfly bushes are known for their ability to attract butterflies. Red ones also attract hummingbirds. The scientific name comes from Adam Buddle, the botanist who brought them to Europe from Asia in 1774.

What is the scientific name for Canadian goldenrod?

“We blame Walt Disney for goldenrod’s undeserved bad name. Despite Sneezy’s pronouncement, plants such as goldenrod with heavy, insect carried pollen, rarely cause allergic reactions.” –Janet Macunovich

What is the scientific name for yarrow?

Yarrow is a frequent sight in butterfly gardens. It also has medicinal properties: the leaves have been used as bandages to stop blood flow and in tinctures for acne.

What is the scientific name for rose geranium?

“Such a morning it is when love leans through geranium windows and calls with a cockerel’s tongue. When red-haired girls scamper like roses over the rain-green grass, and the sun drips honey.” –Laurie Lee

What is one common name for Hypericum perforatum?

St. John’s wort has long been used as a native treatment for depression. The flowers, which bloom around the date celebrated as St. John the Baptist’s birthday (June 24), are traditionally plucked and made into a tincture for medicine.

What is the scientific name for garden phlox?

“A black cat amoung roses, phlox, lilac-misted under a quarter moon, the sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock. The garden is very still, it is dazed with moonlight, contented with perfume...” –Amy Lowell

What is the scientific name for black-eyed Susans?

Black-eyed Susans are primarily annuals. However, some varieties were created that are biennials or perennials as long as they are grown under the right conditions. Because the flowers reseed easily, most people think they are growing the perennial type even if they are not.

What is the scientific name for sweet pea?

“I imagined out the most interesting dialogue between the asters and the sweet peas and the wild canaries in the lilac bush and the guardian spirit of the garden. When I go home, I mean to write it down. I wish I had a pencil and paper to do it now because I daresay I’ll forget the best parts before I reach home.” –Anne Shirley in Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

What is the scientific name for common tansy?

Drying tansy and sprinkling it around areas will keep some ants away. Tansy is poisonous to humans and animals and can cause contact dermatitis.

What is one common name for Convallaria majalis?

“I would far rather have two or three lilies-of-the-valley gathered for me by a person I like, than the most expensive bouquet that could be bought.” –Elizabeth Gaskell

What is the scientific name for sage?

Sage is a culinary herb frequently used in stuffing and gravy. The plant is a perennial and has been used traditionally in American Indian smudging rituals.

What is the scientific name for catnip?

“Dogs are high on life. Cats need catnip.” –Eloisa James

What is the scientific name for bleeding heart plants?

The word eximia means “choice victim for sacrifice” in Latin. Bleeding heart plants are poisonous, and deer won’t eat them but hummingbirds can safely eat their nectar.

What is the scientific name for Californian poppy?

“Never be afraid to be a poppy in a field of daffodils.” –Michaela DePrince

What is one common name for Hyacinthus orientalis?

“On desperate seas long wont to roam, they hyacinth hair, thy classic fact, thy naiad airs have brought me home to the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.” –Edgar Allen Poe, To Helen

What is the scientific name for bittersweet nightshade or “true” bittersweet?

True bittersweet has a common name that represents the properties of its poisonous berries: first tasting bitter and then nauseously sweet. “False” or “American” bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) is a native vine protected in the United States for its rarity. Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is an invasive vine that can quickly kill trees in America.

What is one name for Ficus carica?

Figs are partially dried on their branches before they are harvested. They can be used in baking to replace fat.

What is the scientific name for alpine forget-me-not?

“All flowers are flirtatious—particularly if they carry hyphenated names. The more hyphens in the name, the flirtier the flower. The one-hyphen flowers—black-eyed Susans, lady-smock, musk-rose—may give you only a shy glance and then drop their eyes; the two-hyphen flowers—forget-me-not, flower-de-luce—keep glancing. Flowers with three or more hyphens flirt all over the garden and continue even when they are cut and arranged in vases.” –Willard R. Espy

What is the scientific name for Morrow’s honeysuckle?

Morrow’s honeysuckle is from Japan like its cousin, Japanese honeysuckle. However, Morrow’s honeysuckle is a bushy plant as opposed to the other version, which is a vine.

What is the scientific name for corn or maize?

“The miller imagines that the corn grows only to make his mill turn.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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